John's Journal...

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast July Trip of a Lifetime with Captain Sonny Schindler

Tripletail and Big Speckled Trout – The Search Begins

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Recently, my son John Phillips, Jr., and I fished with Captain Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Charters on the “Moni-Q” charter boat out of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Sonny’s partner Matt Tusa, veteran saltwater angler Rozanne Patten of Auburn, Alabama,Click to enlarge Mary McKie Roberts also of Auburn, and Mike Jones of Jackson, Miss., and his brother Brian Jones of Starkville, Miss. Schindler’s fished these waters his entire life, and although he did leave home long enough to earn a college degree at the University of Southern Mississippi in broadcast journalism, he’s chosen to live a fisherman’s life instead.

Captain Sonny Schindler’s boat, the “Moni-Q,” chattered against small waves as we sped across the Biloxi Marsh, headed to the rich estuaries where speckled trout, redfish and flounder thrive. “We’ll be trying to catch some 2 to 4 pounders first,” Schindler explained. “Then we’ll try to get tripletails. If we have any time remaining, we’ll finish out our limit of speckled trout before we return to the dock.” I’d told Schindler before we arrived at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, that I needed to catch and photograph tripletail because I already had an assignment to write about these unusual fish. The Florida tripletail has derived its name because its dorsal and anal fins go almost back to its tail, giving the fish an appearance of having three tails. The tripletail is a really-unusual fish, and there’s not a lot known about it, except that it’s a chameleon. The tripletail can change color to match whatever object he’s feeding under, on or around. He primarily hangs out around floating objects in the Gulf of Mexico. Schindler had promised that we’d run enough crab-trap buoys to find and catch one or two tripletails. “The speckled trout bite has been so good early that we should try and catch big specks early and then let the sun rise before we start hunting tripletails,” Schindler suggested. “I really don’t like to look for tripletails until after 10:00 am because the sun has to be high for the Click to enlargetripletails to come-up and start feeding on the crab-trap buoys and for us to be able to see them. So, we need to try to catch a number of big trout before we start looking for the tripletails.” Click to enlarge

Because Schindler and his partner Matt Tusa are on the water about 255 days a year, I knew his advice was sound. Too, I realized that if anyone could find big speckled trout, it would be Schindler or Tusa. When one of them locates fish, he’ll notify the other, so both parties can catch fish. Because they’re on the water daily, Schindler and Tusa know where the trout are holding, where they’re biting, what time they start biting, and when the trout bite has ended. So, I felt confident as the sun created a small, pink glow on the horizon that when we reached our destination that Schindler had predetermined for us to fish, the trout would be there. And they were. As Schindler slowed-down his boat, I could see the point of an island jutting out into the marsh. The tide was coming in, and where there was a break in the water off the point of the island, we could see baitfish hopping and skipping and dodging sharks’ teeth with speckled trout in hot pursuit. We also spotted shrimp, jumping as high as they could out of the water, hoping to grab hold of some type of invisible structure that would prevent them from falling back into the salty brine and being eaten by the speckled trout. But although the shrimp found freedom in the air for a while, as soon as they returned to the water, the toothy speckled trout gobbled them up. I hardly could wait to get bait on my hook and cast out to the waiting speckled trout.

To fish with Captain Sonny Schindler, call him at (228) 342-2295, email him at, or visit For accommodations in Biloxi, Mississippi, contact Bobby Carter at the Isle of Capri at (800) 843-4753, or go to To learn more Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, check out, or call (866) SEE-MISS (733-6477).

Tomorrow: Speckled Trout – When You’re Hot, You’re Hot

Check back each day this week for more about "Mississippi’s Gulf Coast July Trip of a Lifetime with Captain Sonny Schindler"

Day 1: Tripletail and Big Speckled Trout – The Search Begins
Day 2: Speckled Trout – When You’re Hot, You’re Hot
Day 3: Tons of Speckled Trout and Redfish
Day 4: Blasting the Crab Traps
Day 5: Another Tripletail and a Boatload of Speckled Trout


Entry 517, Day 1